February has kicked off this week with a new challenge, to traverse the 84.5 miles of Hadrian’s Wall virtually by running or walking the equivalent distance locally. The route is the advised long-distance trail route along the line of the wall starting in Wallsend in Newcastle to Bowness west of Carlisle. Michelle Tickle was well on the way to complete the full 84.5 miles to Bowness well within a week and a bit, as she completed 69.83 miles in seven days to bring her behind the Trinity School coming into the outskirts of Carlisle along the River Eden. Steve Myerscough was a little way behind at Turret 54B near Howgill before Walton having completed 57.51 miles. Nigel Shepherd was at Milecastle 50 just after Birdsowald Fort at Gilsland with 53.28 miles. Steven Gore was close behind at 51.88 miles negotiating the remains of the Roman Bridge across the River Irthing at Gilsland just between Turret 48B and Milecastle 49 having not run on Day 1. Pauline Eccleston was just resting up at Turret 48B itself at 51.61 miles. Tom Crabtree had run 46.3 miles after a reast day to reach the craggiest part of the route at Turret 43B just past Cockmount Hill just after the iconic Great Chesters Fort. Peter Rooney was well advanced with 45.99 miles under his belt at Turret 43A just approaching Cockmount Hill. Helen Lawrenson was at 42.31 miles after six days of running taking her to Turret 39 and a break at Once Brewed having just navigated the iconic Highshield and Peel Crags, one of the most scenic elevated sections. Neil Tate was at the most famous location at Housesteads Fort after 39.58 miles, on the momentous crags adjacent to Beggar Bog. Mark Renshall had completed 35.85 miles at the turret midway between Milecastles 32 and 33 at Brown Moor, between Carraw and Shield on the Wall. James Green had reached 34.93 miles taking him to the Brocolitia Fort and Coventina’s Well at Teppermoor, and Kerry Eccles had run 34.17 to bring her to a turret just approaching Teppermoor. Looking at the other end of those taking part it is important to recognise those not able to put in a high mileage but nonetheless taking advantage of the Challenge. 8.5 miles with three days running had taken Sue Hopcroft along the banks of the Tyne from Wallsend right through the centre of Newcastle to Scotswood. After just two days effort Jason Parkinson was just coming out of Lemington heading back to the banks of the Tyne with 10.36 miles clocked. A little further ahead Julie Kinsey was at Newburn having just reached the Tyne banks again, and Stuart Clayton was a bit further on at 11.4 miles in the Tyne Riverside Country Park at the Newburn Sands. Sue Rigby had completed 11.79 miles at Ryton Island a bit further on along the Tyne bank. Sean Murray was a few yards ahead just short of 12 miles with Clare Belfield in sight just ahead at 12.1 miles. Emma Wright had just regained the wall line at Turret 12A having just run through Heddon-on-the-Wall. Elliot Costello was at 17.04 miles just approaching Milecastle 14, and Alex Rowe was just ahead at 17.63 miles at Ippies Hill.
There was concern in athletics circles this week of a “lost generation” in athletics due to the 10 months of lost coaching and training, possibly an over-reaction to news from athletics clubs of a slow membership renewal take-up this year so far. Numbers of paid-up members has so far plummeted this year, and several observers are looking over the fences of the country’s athletics tracks at the empty facilities where only a few national podium athletes have permission to use them at present. The fear is that these members not so far renewing their membership will be lost to the sport when it does have the go-ahead to resume competition and in particular the loss of juniors who could quickly turn their attention to other pastimes. This is where activities like the Wesham Virtual Handicap this week and the February challenge to run/walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall are invaluable to keep members active and involved, and keep club life revolving with virtual get-togethers, quizzes or online training and fitness sessions.
The Hadrian’s Wall February Challenge swelled the mileage in last week’s Strava training log. The leader-board was headed by Daniel Shaw once again with 66.9 miles in 8:54:33. Second on the table was Rob Danson preparing for a hoped-for future return to competition with 63.8 miles completed in 6:55:46. Steve Myerscough was third with his good progress along the Wall with 57.5 miles logged in 7:55:50. Simon Denye was fourth with 53.1 miles in 6:17:54 and Ugis Datavs fifth with 52.6 miles clocked. Leading the women’s list Michelle Tickle was storming along the Wall with 34.9 miles in 5:11:11 with Helen Lawrenson second at 34.3 miles run in 6:28:10. Kerry Eccles was third with 34.2 miles in 5:38:35, also leading the way along the Wall. Kay Twist placed fourth right behind with 34 miles in 6:19:06. Tanya Shaw was fifth at 26 miles and a cumulative time of 6:19:06. Shaun Worden was 6th on the list with 51.3 miles in 8:34:43; Tom Crabtree well ahead on the Wall with 46.3 miles in 5:58:03; Mark Belfield eighth at 45.2 miles in 5:29:58; Peter Rooney making great progress on the Wall with 44 miles in 6:37:38, and Mark Renshall on 41.8 miles in 6:17:36. Monarch of the Mountains last week was understandably Daniel Shaw with 3173ft of elevation gain, followed by Tony Leach on 2296ft over 24.8 miles in 3:08:04. Third was Steve Swarbrick at 2007ft over 36.7 miles in 4:41:59, and Simon Denye fourth with 1864ft on his 53.1 miles around Poulton. Rob Danson placed fifth with his 1754ft. Heading the women’s leader-board was Michelle Tickle having traversed the full elevation of the Hadrian’s Wall crags with a gain of 1339ft over her 34.9 miles. Helen Lawrenson was second with 1184ft and Kay Twist third with 879ft over 34 miles. Pauline Eccleston, also well ahead on the Wall, climbed 818ft over 16.6 miles in 2:56:31. Kerry Eccles was fifth with 736ft climbed. Looking at average pace over the week Rob Danson was swiftest at 6:31 per mile with Garry Barnett coming in second again with 6:44 pace over 35.3 miles in 3:57:41. James Green was third with 7:02 pace in 34.9 miles, and Andrew Harling fourth at 7:07 pace with 26.8 miles 3:10:44. Simon Denye placed fifth at 7:07 per mile over 53.1 miles. Emma Lund had the fastest women’s average pace at 7:30 per mile for 8.3 miles in 1:02:15, great to see her return. Tanya Shaw was second speediest at 8:47 pace for her 26 miles with Michelle Tickle powering ahead at 8:55 pace over her 34.9 miles. Emma Davies placed fourth with 8:58 per mile over 1 mile and Julie Kinsey fifth with 9:09 for 11 miles in 1:40:39.
In 2007 fourteen years ago there was a bit more of Wesham’s Pennine Bridleway history when they had entered two teams competed in the Rossendale Harriers’ Relay, a 5-stage 47-mile circuit run in pairs around the Mary Towneley Loop starting and finishing in Waterfoot in Rossendale. This year the target for the ‘A’ team was to finish inside 6 hours, having just missed out last year, and this was accomplished with time to spare on a perfect day for hill running. Conditions were glorious, with clear skies, warm temperatures and no wind, giving spectacular views from the hilltops. Martin Bates and Phil Metcalf took the ‘A’ team away over Stage 1 at 8:30am, 8.5 miles with 1361’ climb. The pair finished 34th in 1:13:57 after a tough climb to the changeover point. Derek Buckley and Lee Barlow took over on Stage 2, the longest leg over 12.5 miles with 1560’ ascent, and gained 13 places to finish 21st in 1:31:47, the 14th fastest for the stage. Russell Mabbett and Richard Davies ran Stage 3, a testing 9.5 miles with 1570’ climb, clocking 1:11:16 to finish 16th and 12th fastest over this leg. Karl Lee and Barry Peatfield held the team steady over the 5.5 miles and 753’ climb of Stage 4 after a delay with the handover, finishing 16th in 45:37, 23rd fastest. Alex Rowe and Charlie Pass brought the team home over Stage 5 with a 1390’ climb over 11 miles with 1:05:19 for 14th place and 7th fastest. They gained a further 2 places, and the team completed the relay in a cumulative time of 5:47:56, an improvement of 13 minutes. Michaela Dempsey and Bernadette Dickinson were first off for the ‘B’ team, running 1:22:10 for 46th position and improving their previous time by 3 minutes. Julie Cruse and Carmell Sullivan ran the long Stage 2 in 1:58:49 finishing 52nd, and Mark Midgley and Graham Vickers gained 4 places on Stage 3 with 1:21:49 taking the team to 48th place. Julie Murphy and Jenny Salt took on the 5.5-mile Stage 4, running 56:24 and finishing 50th, and Dave Waywell and Kath Hoyer brought the team home over Stage 5 in 51st position with a cumulative finishing time of 7:17:35 having run 1:38:24 for the leg. Joanna Goorney ran 1:29:44 for 203rd in the Watford Half Marathon, finishing 5th W35. This was a popular race, with 1947 runners, and the winning time was a classy 64 minutes. This was Joanna’s fastest time for the half marathon and is a real achievement to run inside 1 hour 30 minutes. Peter Cruse had a modest run with a calf injury in the Dewsbury 10k, running 42:56 for 306th in a high-quality race of 1060 runners. A 10-man Wesham team took part in Rossendale Harriers’ Pennine Bridleway Relay for a second year, a 5-stage 47-mile circuit run in pairs around the Mary Towneley Loop starting and finishing in Waterfoot. Last year the team was literally finding their way around, wandering off course on four occasions. This year despite poor visibility virtually all day the 10-man team completed the event without mishap, just missing out on a sub 6-hour finish with a cumulative time of 6:01:05 within the Top 20 in 19th place. Mark Midgeley and Graham Vickers took the team away over Stage 1, 8.5 miles with 1361’ climb, and finished 50th in 1:22:25. Charlie Pass and Alex Rowe took over on Stage 2, the longest section of 12.5 miles with 1560’ ascent and a steep drop over the final mile to the finish. They made up 23 places, finishing 27th in 1:27:33, 10th fastest for the stage. Lee Barlow and Russell Mabbett ran Stage 3 as conditions turned to rain, running 9.5 miles and climbing 1570’, with the toughest ascent over the last mile, elevating the team to 23rd place and completing the stage in 1:12:32, 18th fastest. Derek Buckley and Alan Glasgow gained a further 3 places over Stage 4, 5.5 miles and 753’ climb, finishing 20th in 42:07, 15th fastest. Bringing the team home with a gruelling 1390’ climb over Top of Leach Richard Davies and Martin Bates ran 1:16:18 for the 11 miles into Waterfoot, finishing 19th overall and 21st fastest over Stage 5.
In 2015 six years ago there was almost unbelievably no local athletics action after a quiet January and the best on offer was the top quality Dewsbury 10km and the Alsager 5 mile race, both little more than an hour’s drive away but not attracting any Fylde runners. Both races however were sold out in advance so there was no chance for a late decision to run. The cold weather may have slowed performances as the winning times in the 5-miler were 24:04 for winning man Ieuan Thomas from Cardiff and leading lady Preston Harrier Helen Clitheroe in 27:15. Indeed Preston Harriers were the only local club to turn out a team with some good performances headed by Rob Affleck clocking 26:31 and Matt Livingstone 26:35. There were 896 runners in this popular and high-quality race, with 112 runners breaking the 30-minute mark. Similarly, at Dewsbury the winning time was 31:02 by Mohammad Abu Rezeq of Altrincham & District and the women’s winner was Shona Fletcher of Richmond & Zetland in 35:57, times perhaps reflecting the out-and-back course with a steady climb on the way out and the bitter windy conditions. Only 14 men ran inside 34 minutes and 10 females inside 38 minutes. There were 1075 runners in this race with the slowest time just inside 1 hour 28 minutes. With two fixtures remaining in the Mid Lancs Cross Country League and the next fixture at Blackpool on 14th February clubs are reflecting on their progress and looking at the divisional standings this season to see how they can maximise their positions now for the final end-of-season results. The Wesham women have not yet completed four events and the Senior team could stay in the top division if they can pull out their best team for at least one further fixture. The ‘B’ team also have three scores but are not fighting for more than a final season points tally. The W35 team have two wins to their name but again lack a fourth score so with a good team ate the remaining fixtures should see a medal prospect and a win is possible. The W45 team similarly could be on the border of medals with a good performance at Blackpool and Lancaster. The Wesham Senior Men look certain to be relegated back to Division 2 and the ‘B’ team have only completed one event so will remain in Division 4. The Men V40 could be promoted back up to Division 1 but they are currently equal 2nd with Chorley. The Vet-50 team are in with a shout of medals as are the Vet-60 team who still have to complete a fourth fixture. So there is all to play for in the next six weeks. The end of season presentation night will be held on Friday 17th April at Bamber Bridge. At individual level Catherine Carrdus is 5th Vet-35 and 13th overall and Helen Lawrenson is 14th. John Collier heads the Vet-60s and Alex Rowe is 3rd in the Vet-50 rankings. Rob Danson is 5th overall. Parkrun is increasing in popularity all the time and Karl Lee had a good run in the Preston parkrun on Saturday morning despite the cold and breezy conditions, clocking 17:51 for a 72.36% age graded performance. Steve Myerscough completed his 65th parkrun with 18:41 for 73.60% grade. David Taylor ran a new personal best of 18:58 for 68.01% performance. Stuart Topping clocked 20:35 recording a new personal best with 68.43%; Jason Blagden ran 21:22 for another personal best with 65.37%; George Kennedy 22:16 for M55 70.21%; Nicola Unsworth 22:18 for W40 70.55%; Gemma Owen 22:19 for a personal best performance with 66.77%; Diane Blagden 25:50 for W45 83:35%.